“People confuse sun with light,” Jean-Pascal tells us as we take our first sip of his wine. “To make good grapes you need some sun but what you really need is light. Sun doesn’t ripen grapes. It dries them out. It’s light that drives photosynthesis and creates grapes.”
He is explaining that the story of Burgundy is the story of climate change. For more than a decade, yields have been fluctuating at an apocalyptic rate. With the exception of 2012, every other vintage has seen losses greater than 40% come harvest. In 2016, that number was closer to 85%.
And this was all before the devastating frosts of 2021, when entire vineyards were decimated. Suffice it to say, we are lucky to squeeze any wine at all from Sarnin-Berrux, a spirited duo of winemakers who sources grapes from a variety of organic sites spanning Burgundy—from Savigny-les-Beaune to Chablis to Volnay.
Their wines live in limbo. Like their makers, they engage the questions of things we take for granted – the difference between sun and light, and the distinction between synthetic and natural sulfur, which Jean-Pascal describes as a chasm. In his eyes, Burgundy is full of wine destroyed by too much synthetic sulfur: « ça brûle le nez » (it burns the nose). Instead, Sarnin-Berrux has devoted the time and resources to convert natural volcanic sulfur into liquid sulfur, which has the same protective properties as the synthetic but none of the abrasive. What results is a rarity: the pure, naked expression of something decidedly classic.
We’ll enjoy the romance as long as the mercurial climate allows. In the meantime, we’d love to pour you a taste.